Treatment - Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency - Treatment

AAT deficiency currently has no cure, but there are treatments to slow lung damage and treat its complications. Treatment is best managed by a team that includes a primary care doctor, pulmonologist (lung specialist), gastroenterologist (GI specialist), and geneticist (specialist in genetic conditions). People who have AAT deficiency and develop related liver or skin diseases will be referred to doctors who treat those diseases.

You may need a lifelong treatment called augmentation therapy. In this treatment, you receive the AAT protein, obtained from blood donors, through a vein to raise levels of the protein in your lungs. This helps slow down lung damage. Side effects of this treatment are rare and may include a mild fever, headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

If you have complications from AAT deficiency, you may also need:

  • Medicines called inhaled bronchodilators and inhaled steroids. These medicines help open your airways and make breathing easier. They are also used to treat asthma and COPD.
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, which involves treatment by a team of experts at a special clinic. You will learn how to manage your condition and function at your best.
  • A lung transplant, which may be an option if you have very severe breathing problems and have a good chance of surviving the transplant surgery